I recently met my brand-new niece who lives several states away. At the time she was seven weeks old (and now almost 10) and her parents were, not surprisingly, sleep-deprived. At one point my sister and I discussed the sheer irony of the phrase "sleep like a baby" because new babies do not generally sleep soundly or consistently.
As the older sister, I proceeded to share my stories of putting my own babies — now 8 and 12 years old — in the car, in bouncy seats, and, in my own arms for hours, in my desperation to get them to rest peacefully. Those children of mine still don’t like going to bed or taking naps. I believe this is the starkest comparison between a child and his/her parents: babies and young kids do not appreciate a good snooze; their moms and dads crave it and simply can’t get enough.
Related to the topic and only one week ago, I learned I have mild sleep apnea. If you’re not familiar with this condition, the National Heart, Blood and Lung Institute defines it as "common disorder in which you have one or more pauses in breathing or shallow breaths while you sleep." There are varying degrees of sleep apnea and it is chronic unless treated with lifestyle changes such as weight loss or medical devices like an oxygen mask or tube. Ultimately, sleep apnea impacts your sleep quality and makes you tired. The NHBLI states it's "a leading cause of excessive daytime sleepiness.'
Well, this explains a lot in my life:
- I’m not a morning person.
- I wake up sleepy.
- I require coffee to function properly.
- I don’t feel truly alive until 10 a.m. daily.
If this sounds like you, too, you could have sleep apnea, or you’re simply one of countless Americans who isn’t getting a good night's rest. I've seen and heard Arianna Huffington, the co-founder and editor in chief of The Huffington Post, speak twice publicly about this very topic. One year ago, she even published a book all about it, The Sleep Revolution: Transforming Your Life, One Night at a Time.
The description on Amazon.com reads powerfully:
"We are in the midst of a sleep deprivation crisis. And this has profound consequences — on our health, our job performance, our relationships and our happiness. What is needed, she boldly asserts, is nothing short of a sleep revolution. Only by renewing our relationship with sleep can we take back control of our lives."
How can one go about achieving better quality sleep? Let me count the ways…
The multi-billion dollar sleep industry is booming and will suggest to you the following:
- You may need a better mattress;
- You may need a better pillow;
- You may need sheets with a higher thread count;
- You may need lavender pillow spray, room spray, and body spray (and oil and lotion infused with the same);
- You may need a prescription or herbal sleep aid;
- And for medical purposes, you may truly need one of those aforementioned face-masks, typically priced from $200 to $5,000;
Or, better yet for the sleep salespeople, you may need all the above.
Forbes cites that sleep labs "have enjoyed 4% growth every year for the last five years and are expected to continue at that rate for the next five*."
(Are you yawning yet?)
In my case and likely in your own, I can point to one key culprit that is contributing to my sleep difficulties, and this is where Huffington has a lot to say. It's that tiny little shining portal to the world that you take to bed with you at night. It's my beloved smartphone that leads me to make dumb decisions at bedtime.
Rather than staring into the blue light, I always tell myself I should be reading a real book, just thinking, and drifting off. But noooo. I scan my apps, I scroll Facebook, I clean out my email– both personal and professional, I text, I watch pointless videos, I read articles — a few from legitimate sources, and I shop on Amazon. Yep, I even got caught up in the giraffe frenzy on more than one occasion.
All bad decisions. Hard habits to break. But in the best interest of my sleep, I've declined my doctor’s offer to prescribe an oxygen mask. I'm going to try a few natural solutions: drop some weight and put down my phone. Both lifestyle changes will be equally tough for me, but I owe this to myself.
As adults, we should sleep better than babies. And that's my wish upon a bedtime star for all of us.
Michelle Payne is Assistant Vice President, Branding & Communications at Elements Financial, where she has contributed her communications and managerial skills for almost 15 years. In her role, she is responsible for advertising, sponsorships, and media relations to ensure members are hearing and learning about the best financial products around. She raises her daughters (and a pug) with her husband Stephen in the suburbs of Indianapolis.
This information is provided for informational purposes only. It does not constitute legal, tax or financial advice. Consult with your tax, legal or financial adviser before taking any action.